(ZENIT News / Rome, 10.02.2024).- The official communication of the Holy See Press Office regarding the content of the meetings in early February 2024 between Pope Francis and his Council of Cardinals (the so-called C9), stated that one of the three topics addressed was the role of women in the Church. But what they said, which has spread more widely, is what the non-official communication transmitted (in reality, it should be called indiscretion): that women’s Diaconal Ordination can be taken for granted in the Catholic Church.
The indiscretion came from two women, who were present in the Pope’s Council as experts. On one hand, a Catholic woman theologian and, on the other, an Anglican woman “bishop.” In an interview announced on the cover of the Spanish magazine “Vida Nueva,” the Anglican “bishop” Jo Bailey Wells admitted that the invitation left her totally surprised. And she also gave more details about the topic she was asked to address. “I was asked to talk about the experience of the ordination of women in the Church of England and in the Anglican Communion. This included some antecedents, the process of decision-making and the impact it had for our Church. But I also talked somewhat more generally about what we had learnt through the process in terms of how to surf the change and address the differences.”
Mrs Wells commented that those present “spent more time listening than speaking,” although later she acknowledged that, more than a request for advice, “it was rather a seminar in which we sat together to listen ( . . . ) as colleague, as ministry companion in Christ’s Gospel, to share the recent history of women in our Church.” Ands she added: “I know that on the part of Pope Francis there is a willingness to explore, to assume some risks, to exercise the imagination in regard to the possibilities of change.” Wells had already made some statements to the Anglican News Service saying virtually the same but with fewer words.
Asked if she thinks Anglicans are going farther than other Christian denominations in gender equality, Mrs Wells said that “It seems we are going ahead of the Catholic Church in regard to helping women to take advantage of the gifts granted to them in the whole gamut of possibilities at the service of God.”
Another woman who fell into indiscretions was theologian Linda Pocher. In an interview with Europa Press she ventured to say that “the Pope is very much in favour of the feminine diaconate, “although she asserted that “There is no reflection on the Presbyteral Ordination of women in the Catholic Church.”
She herself recounted how an Anglican woman ended up taking part in the Pope’s meeting with his Council. “The Pope asked me to organize this meeting of reflection on the realm of women in the Church and it seemed interesting to me to confront this experience of the Anglican Church in this regard.” She also said that she asked Mrs Wells to tell what type of process they followed to come to the decision to ordain women and how this has changed life in her Church. So, what she really did was to recount her experience about what we later conversed together with the Cardinals and the Pope.” Half of the “women priests” in the Anglican Church, do not believe in the Resurrection of Christ.
Linda Pocher ventured to position the Pope publicly on this matter (when he has never done so at any moment), by saying that “There was also talk of the diaconate. We already know that the Pope is very much in favour of the female diaconate, but it is still something that they are trying to understand how to put it into practice.”
One’s attention is called by something that seems to explain what is seen in the published photos of the meeting to which we are referring: the seriousness of certain episcopal faces and even a certain disconnection, from the point of view of bodily language, in a couple of Cardinals. “The Cardinals that are in the Councill are all Pastors of local Churches. So they also come burdened with the sensibilities of their own people. We know that the question of women in the Church acquires different hues. In some countries, the possibility of women to study is still lacking. So the focus must first be on that. In other countries, instead, we know there is a specific demand for greater participation at the level of the Church, and also through the ministries,” said Pocher.
It’s true that from an informative point of view many details are appreciated. However, it’s no less true that these indiscretions pose problems for the Pope as not only do they put in his mouth but also in his intentions, certain weights on one side of the scale. To say it more clearly: the Pontiff has a spokesmen and it’s not Pocher or Wells. He is called Matteo Bruni. Does the Pope need different spokesmen for specific topics such as this? What is more, have the Pope’s private meetings lost their private character? Do statements such as these favour or condition the freedom of opinion of the Council of Cardinals and, in general, of any other ecclesiastic or baptized individual?
It had not happened in the past, when only the Pope and his Council of Cardinals met, that details about topics addressed were ventilated in a public way. Two individuals have done disservice not only to the great multitude of discreet women that are outside and inside the Church, but also to the Pontiff himself.
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